Richard Stallman Speech Requirement (2011)
the following is from https://groups.google.com/a/mysociety.org/forum/#!msg/mysociety-community/zkyZpOXjgoQ/_8xyXSxv9zYJ
- mysociety-community › [mySociety:public] Richard Stallman speaker visit
- from: andrew
- date: 10/20/11
- Other recipients: develope...@lists.mysociety.org, rms-a...@gnu.org, r...@gnu.org
Richard Stallman is visiting the UK and he's looking for opportunities to give a talk/lecture on November 2, 4 or 5. I guess he probably needs no introduction but there is a biography at the end of this email.
The offer came about when he contacted me after reading a letter published in the Guardian last Wednesday about the Sociological Imagination. (This was following the death of Steve Jobs, see letter here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/oct/12/the-power-of-apple ).
It's short notice, I know, but if you run a class, club or society or simply wanted to organise a public meeting at short notice then you can contact him or his assistant directly. Their details: Richard Stallman r...@gnu.org and his assistant Jeanne Rasta rms-a...@gnu.org .
Andrew Wood, Oxford.
-------- Original Message --------
- Subject: Re: The Power of Apple
- Date: Tue, 18 Oct 2011 10:07:56 -0400
- From: Richard Stallman <r...@gnu.org>
- Reply-To: r...@gnu.org
- To: and...@gn.apc.org
- References: <E1REpVN-...@fencepost.gnu.org>
- <4E99A7D...@gn.apc.org> <E1RFAAr-...@fencepost.gnu.org>
- <4E9C663...@gn.apc.org> <E1RFuxT-...@fencepost.gnu.org>
Here's the info packet about my speeches. This information is essential for planning my visit and speech. Please forward it to anyone who is interested in organizing a speech for me.
Please discuss with me what the topic of this speech should be. We need to decide it together.
My talks are not technical. The topics of free software, copyright vs community, and digital inclusion deal with ethical/political issues that concern all users of computers. The topics of GPL version 3 and software patents are mainly of interest to people that work with software.
My usual speech about the Free Software Movement and GNU takes a little over 1.5 hours in English, plus time for questions, photos, distribution of FSF things, and so on. It is best to allow plenty of time for questions, because people usually want to ask a lot of questions. In total, it is best to allow 2.5 hours.
"GNU" is pronounced as one syllable with a hard g, like "grew" but with n instead of r.
The topics I speak about are
Free Software and Your Freedom (alternate titles: The Free Software Movement and the GNU/Linux Operating System, Free Software in Ethics and in Practice) Copyright vs Community in the Age of Computer Networks The Danger of Software Patents The GNU General Public License What we've changed in version 3, and why A Free Digital Society (alternate title, What Makes Digital Inclusion Good or Bad?)
These topics take about an hour and a quarter in English, plus time for questions, photos, signatures, etc. I suggest allowing at least two hours.
Each topic takes substantially longer in other languages.
I can also possibly speak about some other topic if you suggest one.
For a speech about Free Software, you can use this abstract:
The Free Software Movement campaigns for computer users' freedom to cooperate and control their own computing. The Free Software Movement developed the GNU operating system, typically used together with the kernel Linux, specifically to make these freedoms possible.
Richard Stallman will speak about the goals and philosophy of the Free Software Movement, and the status and history of the GNU operating system, which in combination with the kernel Linux is now used by tens of millions of users world-wide.
For Copyright vs Community, you can use this abstract:
Copyright developed in the age of the printing press, and was designed to fit with the system of centralized copying imposed by the printing press. But the copyright system does not fit well with computer networks, and only draconian punishments can enforce it.
The global corporations that profit from copyright are lobbying for draconian punishments, and to increase their copyright powers, while suppressing public access to technology. But if we seriously hope to serve the only legitimate purpose of copyright--to promote progress, for the benefit of the public--then we must make changes in the other direction.
For The Danger of Software Patents, you can use this abstract:
Richard Stallman will explain how software patents obstruct software development. Software patents are patents that cover software ideas. They restrict the development of software, so that every design decision brings a risk of getting sued. Patents in other fields restrict factories, but software patents restrict every computer user. Economic research shows that they even retard progress.
For The GNU General Public License
Richard Stallman wrote the first GNU General Public License in 1989, and version 3 which was completed in 2007. He will discuss the philosophy of the GNU GPL, the changes made in version 3, and the reasons for those changes.
For A Free Digital Society
Activities directed at ``including'' more people in the use of digital technology are predicated on the assumption that such inclusion is invariably a good thing. It appears so, when judged solely by immediate practical convenience. However, if we also judge in terms of human rights, whether digital inclusion is good or bad depends on what kind of digital world we are to be included in. If we wish to work towards digital inclusion as a goal, it behooves us to make sure it is the good kind.
Richard Stallman launched the free software movement in 1983 and started the development of the GNU operating system (see www.gnu.org) in 1984. GNU is free software: everyone has the freedom to copy it and redistribute it, with or without changes. The GNU/Linux system, basically the GNU operating system with Linux added, is used on tens of millions of computers today. Stallman has received the ACM Grace Hopper Award, a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Pioneer Award, and the the Takeda Award for Social/Economic Betterment, as well as several honorary doctorates.
(A longer version is available if you want it.)
There is a black-and-white photograph of me as a 5820K Encapsulated Postscript file (http://www.stallman.org/rms-bw.eps) 3762K JPEG file (http://www.stallman.org/rms-bw.jpeg), and 5815K TIFF file (http://www.stallman.org/rms-bw.tiff).
Other photos can be found on stallman.org.
Asking for the text:
I don't write my speeches in advance--that would take too much time. However, transcripts of my past speeches are available. If you can make a transcript of my speech after I give it, that would be quite useful.
I absolutely refuse to have a break in the middle of my speech. Once I start, I will go straight through.
Participation in a larger event:
I am selective about the events I participate in. If you are inviting me to speak at a larger event, please inform me now of the overall nature of the event, so I can make an informed decision about whether to participate.
I usually decline to participate in "open source" or "Linux" events. See http://www.gnu.org/gnu/gnu-linux-faq.html for why it is incorrect to refer to the operating system as "Linux".
"Open source" is the slogan of a position that was formulated as a reaction against the free software movement. Those who support its views have a right to promote them, but I disagree with them and I want to promote the ideals of free software. See http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-software-for-freedom.html for more explanation of the difference. However, I will agree to participate in events labeled "Free Software and Open Source", provided that my speech is not the principal draw of the event.
Erecting a larger event:
If you are thinking of erecting a larger event around my speech, which includes inviting other speakers to speak before or after me, please talk with me about the plans for that larger event _before_ inviting other speakers. I want to make sure the event entirely supports the goals and principles I work for, and I want to review the publicity plans for the event.
If you would like me to give speeches in other cities, other institutions, or other events which you are not organizing directly, please put rms-a...@gnu.org in touch directly with their organizers. We need to show them this info packet, and we need to discuss various issues with them just as we discuss the issues of your event with you. Communication through a middleman is asking for confusion, so please don't ask us to do that.
Venues and planning:
All my talks are aimed at the general computer-using public. They are not technical. With good, broad publicity, many people will come -- usually hundreds.
So don't aim small. Please plan each speech in a large room, then plan the publicity to bring people in to fill it. Please do not suggest scheduling a "small speech", because that makes no sense as a goal. I would always rather reach as many people as I feasibly can.
If the speech is at a university, please do the publicity all around the university. Don't limit it to your department! We also want people from off-campus to come, so please inform local IT businesses, user groups, and other relevant organizations.
We will also want to inform the region's daily newspapers so they can put the speech in their calendar sections, and anything else we can think of. Each additional interested person who comes means an increase in the results achieved by the speech.
Make sure you inform the public that my talk is not technical, so anyone interested in ethics and use of computers might wish to come.
A microphone is desirable if the room is large. No other facilities are needed. I do not have slides or any sort of presentation materials.
A supply of tea with milk and sugar would be nice. If it is tea I really like, I like it without milk and sugar. With milk and sugar, any kind of tea is fine. I always bring tea bags with me, so if we use my tea bags, I will certainly like that tea without milk or sugar.
If I am quite sleepy, I would like two cans or small bottles of non-diet Pepsi. (I dislike the taste of coke, and of all diet soda; also, there is an international boycott of the Coca Cola company for killing union organizers in Colombia and Guatemala; see killercoke.org.) However, if I am not very sleepy, I won't want Pepsi, because it is better if I don't drink so much sugar.
I can speak in English, French, and Spanish.
If the audience won't be comfortable with a language I can speak, it is important to have translation. However, consecutive translation is not feasible, because it would more than double the length of the speech. Please do not ask me to do that--I will refuse.
I have found it works to do simultaneous translation without special systems: I speak into the ear of the interpreter, and the interpreter speaks to the microphone. This avoids the need for special transmitters and headsets. However, it does require an interpreter capable of doing simultaneous translation for more than an hour. Do not propose doing this with a person whose translation skills are not adequate for this.
Another method is to set up a microphone and speaker system for the interpreter in a far corner of the room, or a balcony. If the speakers are set up suitably, people there can hear the interpreter well, while people in the front of the room can hear me well.
I can try to give a shortened free software speech (about 30 minutes of material). With consecutive translation it will take an hour or more. I will be forced to omit many important points in the usual speech. I do not like to omit so much.
If we have simultaneous translation, please make a recording of the translation. It will be very useful, and it is easy to do. Any sound recorder, next to the interpreter, will do it.
If you plan to restrict admission to my speech, or charge a fee for admission, please discuss this with me *personally in advance* to get my approval for the plan. If you have imposed charges without my direct personal approval, I may refuse to do the speech.
I'm not categorically against limiting admission or fees, but excluding people means the speech does less good, so I want to make sure that the limitations are as small as necessary. For instance, you can allow students and low-paid people and political activists to get in free, even if professionals have to pay. We will discuss what to do.
Another method, which works very well in some places, is to allow people to attend gratis but charge for a certificate of attendance. If the certificate is given by an educational institution, many will find it useful for career advancement, while the others could enter gratis. Whether this would be effective in your country is something you would need to judge.
If corporations sponsor my talk, I am willing to include a small tasteful note of thanks in announcements and brochures, but no more than that. There should be no descriptions of their products or services, and no banners with their names. If a would-be sponsor insists on more than that, we have to do without that sponsor.
If my speech is part of a pre-existing larger event that I have agreed to participate in, I can't impose such conditions for the whole event. However, if banners will be on display next to me while I am speaking, that is rather obnoxious; if they advertise organizations that I disapprove of on ethical grounds (which is not unlikely) I would want to take them down, cover them up, or turn them off during my speech.
My main speech topics are not technical. They are about political issues regarding the use of software, and anyone concerned about ethical issues with effects on our daily lives should be concerned about them. Thus, when planning to publicize my talk, don't direct the publicity primarily at computing organizations and computer science departments. That would only reach a fraction of the people who might be interested. Please also contact political science departments, economics departments, philosophy departments, music departments, and student groups interested in freedom and human rights issues. Let's aim to make the speech reach as many interested people as possible.
The speech topics of software patents and GPLv3 are of interest specifically to the IT field, so those you can publicize among IT contacts.
Avoiding errors in publicity:
The GNU Project constantly struggles against two widespread mistakes that undermine the effectiveness of our work: calling our work "open source", and calling the GNU operating system "Linux". Another very bad mistake is using the term "intellectual property".
The Free Software Movement and the Open Source Movement are like two political parties in our community. I founded the Free Software Movement in 1984 along with the GNU Project; we call our work "free software" because it is software that respects the users freedom. The Open Source Movement was founded, in 1998, specifically to reject our idealistic philosophy--they studiously avoid talking about freedom. See http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-software-for-freedom.html for more explanation of the difference between the two movements.
So please make sure that all the publicity about the event (web site, email announcements, conference programs, direct mail, signs, etc), uses the term "free software", not "open source", when you refer to work that includes mine. This includes to the title and descriptions of my speech, of the session it is in, of the track it is part of, and of the event itself.
Of course, some of these names and descriptions may not refer to this work at all; for example, if a track or the whole event covers a much broader topic in which free software is just a small part, its name may not refer to free software. That is normal and appropriate. The point is not to ask you to refer to this work more often than you normally would, but that you should describe it accurately whenever you do refer to it.
If other speakers in the same session, track, or event want their work to be categorized as "open source", that is a legitimate request for them to make. In that case, please give "free software" equal mention with "open source".
If you think it is useful to tell people how free software relates to open source, you can say that "since 1998, another group has used the term `open source' to describe a related activity." That will tell people that my work has a relationship with "open source", which they may have heard of, without implying it is right to describe my work as "open source."
The other widespread confusion is the idea of a "Linux operating system". The system in question, the system that Debian and Red Hat distribute, the system that tens of millions of people use, is basically the GNU operating system, with Linux added as the kernel. When people call the whole system "Linux", they deny us the credit for our work, and this is not right. (See http://www.gnu.org/gnu/linux-and-gnu.html for more explanation.)
So please call this combined operating system "GNU/Linux" in all the publicity, in the titles and description of the session, track, event, etc., if and when you have reason to refer to it.
For similar reasons, please don't use a penguin as a symbol for my work, or on the posters or notices for my speech. The penguin stands for "Linux"; the symbol of GNU is a gnu. So if you want to use a graphical image to symbolize GNU or my work, please use a gnu.
If you have handled these issues well, nobody who looks at your material will get the impression that I work on "open source", or that I support "open source", or that my work is "part of Linux", or that I participated in the "development of Linux", or that GNU is the name of "a collection of tools".
As for the term "intellectual property", that spreads confusion and hostile bias. See http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/words-to-avoid.html for explanation. I hope you will decide to reject that expression, as I do; but in any case, don't use it in connection with my speech.
Please do not mention non-free GNU/Linux distros (for instance, Ubuntu) in the publicity for the event.
If you have doubts about a poster or announcement, please ask my assistant to check it for you, not me. Send it to rms-a...@gnu.org.
Selling Free Software, Free Society:
Please sell copies of my book of essays, Free Software, Free Society, if you can. In the US, Canada, Spain, Italy and Japan, you can obtain published copies of this book in English, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese. You don't need to put up any money to do this. Please talk with rms-a...@gnu.org about how to do it. In the US and Canada, the FSF will ship you these books.
Outside those four countries, please print copies of the book to sell at the event, if you can. The English version is available in http://shop.fsf.org/product/free-software-free-society-2/ (278 pages). There is also my semiautobiography, Free As In Freedom, in http://shop.fsf.org/product/free-as-in-freedom-2/ (245 pages).
He Spanish version of Free Software, Free Society (318 pages) is in http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/fsfs/free_software.es.pdf.
If you use ordinary copying, and avoid fancy covers and bindings, we can sell them for two or three times the cost of copying, and they will still be cheap enough that many people will buy them. From the proceeds you will first retain the cost of printing; we can divide the gains between your organization and the FSF.
If you see any obstacle, whatever it is, don't just give up. Talk with rms-a...@gnu.org about it! Most of the problems that might seem difficult to you, we are already accustomed to solving. Give us a chance to overcome the obstacle!
At the speech:
Please put out a pad of paper for people to write down their names and email addresses if they want to be on the FSF's mailing list.
Changes of plans:
Don't assume that I can still come if you change the date, or even the hour. My schedule is tight, and any change may make the plan impossible. Please consult with me before making any change, and I will see what I can do.
My assistant cannot approve such changes; you must ask me directly, and get approval from me directly. I will certainly be flexible if there is no obstacle.
Scheduling other meetings:
I have agreed to give a speech for you, and if the press wants to talk with me, I will do that for the sake of the cause. However, if you would like me to give additional speeches or go to additional meetings, please ask me first. Please ask me about *each* activity you would like me to perform.
Many people assume that because I am traveling, I am having a vacation--that I have no other work to do, so I can spend the whole day speaking or meeting with people. Some hosts even feel that they ought to try to fill up my time as a matter of good hospitality. Alas, it's not that way for me.
The fact is, I have no vacations. (Don't feel sorry for me; idleness is not something I wish for.) I have to spend 6 to 8 hours *every day* doing my usual work, which is responding to email about the GNU Project and the Free Software Movement. Work comes in every day for me, and if I skip it one day, I have to catch up another day. During the week I usually fall behind; on weekends I try to catch up.
Traveling takes up time, so I will be extra busy during my visit. And it might be nice if I could do at least an hour or two of sightseeing during the visit. So please ask me *in advance* about *each* additional speech, meeting, or other activity that would take time. I don't mind being asked, and I may say yes, but I also may say no.
Remember that an additional speech, even if it is just a one-hour speech, probably takes up two hours counting questions, autographs, etc. And then there is the travel time.
I am glad to give interviews to the press about the GNU system, but before I do, I want to be sure they will not repeat the two common mistakes (calling the whole system "Linux" and associating GNU or me with "open source"). Please explain this, and ask the journalist if he will agree to call the system "GNU/Linux" in the article, and to make it clear that our work is "free software" not "open source". Recommend reading http://www.gnu.org/gnu/linux-and-gnu.html and http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-software-for-freedom.html for explanations of these issues. If the journalist agrees, then I agree to an interview. Please have this discussion by email, and save the messages in both directions.
Sometimes a journalist gives a response which sounds vaguely affirmative or sympathetic but its words do not really say "yes". Examples are "I will do this as much as I can" and "I understand the distinction." Such an answer is actually just "maybe", so when you receive one, please ask for clarification. If he says that the editor has the final decision, please respond with "Would you please consult the editor now, and tell us a firm decision?"
Recorded interviews for broadcast:
It is ok to do these either before or after my speech, and they usually need to be done one at a time, so I am willing to do them that way.
Interviews not for broadcast:
Please do not propose to hold these interviews before the conference. That order wastes my time. So please propose to hold them AFTER the conference.
Also please ask journalists to *see my speech* before the interview. My speeches are not technical; they focus on precisely the sort of philosophical questions that a journalist would probably want to cover. If the journalist has not attended my speech, he will probably start by asking me to answer the same questions that I answer in the speech. That is a waste of time for me.
If you schedule a press conference or group interview, please *plan the time of my speech to allow the interview after it*. It may be a good idea to find out from journalists what times are good for them, then schedule the conference, then schedule the speech before it. This way, they will all be able to get the full picture.
It is also ok to have the interviews the day after the speech. That is another way to have them after the speech rather than before.
If the journalists simply cannot do the interview after the speech, then I will do it before the speech if possible. But please insist that they watch or listen to a recording on audio-video.gnu.org of another speech.
It is also a good idea for the journalist to read
- http://www.gnu.org/gnu/the-gnu-project.html as well as
before the interview. Those articles provide important background. This is especially important for anyone who cannot come to my speech first.
Please ask each journalist to agree to make a recording of the interview. Written notes tend to simplify, and often lead to incorrect quotes.
I am willing to meet with any number of journalists, but if there are many, I can't meet all of them individually (it would take too much time). So what I will do is give private interviews to 2 or maybe 3 of them, whichever ones you think are most important, and see the rest of them as a group (i.e. in a press conference).
You and your associates can judge better than I do which journalists and which publications I should focus on. So I would like you to advise me about that. Please try to judge both the importance of the publication and the merits (intelligence, attention to accuracy, openness of mind, and absence of bias) of the journalist, if you can.
Recording my speech:
Please do record the speech if you can. We are always looking for good recordings of my speeches, both audio and video, to put on line.
The GNU Project keeps an on-line audio and video collection of speech recordings in audio-video.gnu.org. If you are making an audio or video recording of my speech, please write to audio...@gnu.org in advance for advice on how to make a recording that is good for further use, and subsequently to arrange to install your recording on our site.
When you are making a recording, please *make sure* to tell me when the tape needs to be changed. I will pause. Please help me help you make the recording complete.
Please make sure that your recording is not compressed with a substantially lossy codec (unless it is an Ogg codec). If we have to transcode the file, starting from a lower-quality base will reduce the quality of the result.
It is best to provide audio recordings in the original recorded sample rate, up to 44100Hz. Monophonic is generally adequate for speech recordings and saves a lot of space over stereo.
For video recordings, please save the master recording, which will probably be in miniDV format.
Please don't transcode recordings from one format to another before sending to us, unless they have such a high bit rate that files are impractically large. If you do need to encode or transcode, please convert audio to 64Kbps mono Ogg Vorbis (or you could try Ogg Speex), and convert video to Matroska VP8 or to Ogg Theora with video quality set to 5 or more. If you need advice for how to do this, please ask audio...@gnu.org.
Putting my speech on the net:
If you would like to put my speech on the Internet, or distribute it in digital form, I insist on using the formats of the free software community: Ogg Vorbis or Ogg Speex format for audio, and Matroska VP8 (Webm) or Ogg Theora for video. Please do not distribute my speech in any other format.
Please do not ever broadcast or publish my speeches in formats that are not good for free software. I will not speak to make a recording or broadcast that requires non-free software to be heard or viewed. Don't use RealPlayer format, or Quicktime, or Windows Media Player format, or a patented format such as MPEG2, MPEG4, or MP3.
This requirement is very important, because if it is not followed, viewing my speech will require people to do the exact opposite of what I ask them to do. The medium's message would contradict my message.
Because this is so important, please make sure everyone who might be involved in broadcasting the event, or who might be directly or indirectly involved in planning such a broadcast, knows this requirement in advance of the event.
You can get advice and help in distributing Ogg files from Mallory Knodel <mal...@mayfirst.org>.
Streaming the speech:
Streaming is a kind of Internet distribution, so everything in the previous section applies. In particular, you must use only Ogg format or Matroska VP8 (Webm).
If you want to stream my speech but you have not done streaming in Ogg or VP8 before, don't leave the matter till the last minute. By then, it will be too late. Please try a test session two weeks before the speech. That way, if you encounter any problem, there will be time to resolve it before the speech.
If you have previously done streaming using some streaming service and you can't immediately name the format it uses, chances are it is unacceptable and I won't let you use it for my speech. So please check, two weeks in advance, what format it uses. If you find it uses some bad format, you will have time to arrange for ethical streaming.
You can get advice and help in Ogg streaming from Mallory Knodel <mal...@mayfirst.org>. Please ask two weeks before the event; they can do it faster faster, but why make their work hectic unnecessarily? See https://support.mayfirst.org/wiki/live-video-streaming-support for more info.
Remote speeches by video connection:
I can do a speech remotely through a videoconferencing system. This can be done by Internet or by ISDN. For good quality by Internet, we need a maximum of 100msec response time for ping between your site and where I am, and 100kbytes/sec transfer rate.
Using two or three ISDN lines gives good quality but the calls cost money. If I am at home, there is a facility I can use at no charge; you would have to pay for the ISDN calls and for the facilities at your end. If I am somewhere else (which is true more than half the time), then we will need to find a videoconferencing facility for me to use; most likely you will need to pay for that.
Warning about giveways:
You may find companies offering you CD-ROMs, books, fliers or publicity materials to give away or sell at my speech. Please check them before you accept them, to make sure that they don't promote the very thing that we are working to replace.
For instance, the CDs may contain non-free software. Most distros of GNU/Linux contain or suggest non-free software in addition to the free software. (And most of them call the system "Linux".) Please check with me before you allow a CD of GNU/Linux to be distributed at the event.
Books about use of the GNU/Linux system and about GNU programs are fine if they themselves are also free. But many of them are non-free (see http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-doc.html). To see if a book is free, check the license on the back of the title page. If it uses the GNU Free Documentation License, or the Open Publication License version 1 without options A and B, then it is free. If it isn't one of those, please show me the license and I will tell you if it is a free license.
If companies send you publicity materials, please check with me before giving them out at my speech.
The FSF does not pay for my travel, and I can't afford to. I will need you to arrange to cover the cost of my traveling to and from your city (unless I've told you someone else will do it).
I am traveling most of the time, and most of my trips include several stops. Chances are your city is neither the first nor the last stop in the trip. Please don't make assumptions about the itinerary; instead, please ask me for whatever information you need.
Many organizations ask to buy the tickets and send them to me. I do not object to that method in principle, but it typically assumes the trip goes to just one city. That approach is hard to use for a multi-destination trip, unless you want to pay for the whole trip. So normally I buy the tickets myself and get reimbursed by the various places I am visiting. For a multi-destination trip, we will need to agree on what parts of the travel expenses you should cover.
Some organizations feel that hospitality calls for providing me with a business class ticket. That is indeed more comfortable, but an economy class seat is good enough. Meanwhile, speaking is my main source of income, and the extra price of a business class ticket would be a lot more useful for me if I can spend it on something else. So if you were thinking of spending extra for business class, how about if you pay the extra to me as a speaker's fee instead?
We should plan for me to arrive (at the site itself, not just at the airport) at least 24 hours before the speech; that way, even if the flight is cancelled, there is a good chance I can still arrive in time for the speech by taking the same flight the next day.
If you are not paying me a speaking fee, but you are paying for the airline tickets, I must insist that you cover the costs if I have to replace a lost ticket, the fee for changing the ticket if I miss a flight, or any other surprise expenses associated with my travel to and from your location.
This might seem unfair--if a ticket is lost, it could be my fault. But my income is not large, and I cannot afford to assume this risk myself if the event offers me no income. The frustration I feel when I suffer such a loss is excruciating. It is better for me to decline to travel to a certain place than to take such a risk.
Bus and train tickets:
If you buy bus or train tickets for me, do not give my name! Big Brother has no right to know where I travel, or where you travel, or where anyone travels. If they arbitrarily demand a name, give a name that does not belong to any person you know of. If they will check my ID before I board the bus or train, then let's look for another way for me to travel. (In the US I never use long-distance trains because of their ID policy.)
Don't give them your name either: please pay for the ticket in cash.
I expect you to cover expenses such as visa fees, fees for mailing my passport back and forth, taxis to and from the airport, and so on.
I am willing to stay in a hotel if there is no other way. Please book the hotel for me and arrange to pay the hotel directly.
But please DON'T make a hotel reservation until we have fully explored other options. If there is anyone who wants to offer a spare couch, I would much rather stay there than in a hotel (provided I have a door I can close, in order to have some privacy). Staying with someone is more fun for me than a hotel, and it would also save you money.
My distaste for a hotel is less if it does not know my name, but staying in a house with people is normally more enjoyable than staying alone.
Many countries have a law that hotels must report all guests to the police. In most cases, this orwellian policy applies not only to foreigners like me, but to citizens as well! The citizens should be outraged by this, but often they are not.
Please call the hotel and ask whether they will demand to see my passport, and whether they report all their guests to the police. If it has this policy, please join me in striking a blow against Big Brother, by looking for a place I can stay in that doesn't demand to see my passport, or report my visit to anyone. If the police want information about free software, they are welcome to come to my speech.
If you have found a person for me to stay with, please forward this section and the two following sections to that person.
Above 72 fahrenheit (22 centigrade) I find sleeping quite difficult. (If the air is dry, I can stand 23 degrees.) A little above that temperature, a strong electric fan blowing on me enables me to sleep. More than 3 degrees above that temperature, I need air conditioning to sleep.
If there is a substantial chance of indoor temperatures too hot for me, please arrange _in advance_ for me to have what I need.
If you are planning for me to stay in a hotel, DO NOT take for granted that the hotel has air conditioning--or that it will be working when I arrive. Some hotels shut off their air conditioning systems for part of the year. They often think it is unnecessary in seasons when the temperature is usually in the mid 20s--and they follow their schedule like stupid robots even if there is a heat wave.
So you must explicitly ask them: "Do you have air conditioning? Will it be functioning for the dates XXX-YYY?"
In some hotels with central air conditioning, it simply does not work very well: it can make a room less hot, but can't make it cool. Before using a hotel that has central air conditioning, find out what temperature it can actually lower a room to, during the relevant dates.
Or look for a hotel that has a real cooling unit in the room, not a central system. Those tend to work well enough, if they are not broken.
I like cats if they are friendly, but they are not good for me; I am somewhat allergic to them. This allergy makes my face itch and my eyes water. So the bed, and the room I will usually be staying in, need to be clean of cat hair. However, it is no problem if there is a cat elsewhere in the house--I might even enjoy it if the cat is friendly.
Dogs that bark angrily and/or jump up on me frighten me, unless they are small and cannot reach much above my knees. But if they only bark or jump when we enter the house, I can cope, as long as you hold the dog away from me at that time. Aside from that issue, I'm ok with dogs.
If you can find a host for me that has a friendly parrot, I will be very very glad. If you can find someone who has a friendly parrot I can visit with, that will be nice too.
DON'T buy a parrot figuring that it will be a fun surprise for me. To acquire a parrot is a major decision: it is likely to outlive you. If you don't know how to treat the parrot, it could be emotionally scarred and spend many decades feeling frightened and unhappy. If you buy a captured wild parrot, you will promote a cruel and devastating practice, and the parrot will be emotionally scarred before you get it. Meeting that sad animal is not an agreeable surprise.
It is very important for me to be able to transfer email between my laptop and the net, so I can do my ordinary work. While traveling, I often need to do the work and the transfer late at night, or in the morning before a departure. So please set up a way I can connect to the net from the place I am staying.
I do NOT use browsers, I use the SSH protocol. If the network requires a proxy for SSH, I probably can't use it at all.
If a hotel says "We have internet access for customers", that is so vague that it cannot be relied on. So please find out exactly what they have and exactly what it will do. If they have an ethernet, do they have a firewall? Does it permit SSH connections? What parameters does the user need to specify in order to talk with it?
Please check those things directly, or ask the people who actually run the network. If you talk with someone who doesn't understand what "SSH connection" means, or if he doesn't understand the difference between "Internet" and "web browsing", that person is not competent to give reliable information. Don't rely on in...